#SOL16: A Favor

It began with an email. Late Sunday evening, an email in my inbox with the subject, “Five pound favor, please.” I was on the receiving end of chuckles from colleagues every time I recounted the story. Was it not believable? Was it too far from the norm?

And then the box arrived. A perfect cube. Two foot by two foot by two foot. Except for its size, totally inconspicuous in a normal, brown cardboard box. Two layers of packing bubbles hid the goods. Oh, no the corner of the bag was open! White and teal orbs peeked out from around the bag. Fortunately for me the box had arrived early. I had some leisure time to study the size and shape. How would it be best to repack this package for its safe trip to Florida?

On the day of the flight I had my typical early morning pre-dawn arrival at the Des Moines International  Airport. My boarding pass and ID were verified in the TSA pre-check line. Easy peasey! No waiting!  My phone was in the bowl. My two carry-on bags were on the conveyor belt as I strolled through the scanner. No hands over head. No stopping to hold a pose. The line was moving quickly, quietly, efficiently! And then the line slowed. The man in front of me had his carry-on bag inspected by hand. I saw the location of his bag as my items slowly emerged on the conveyor belt. Phone, check. Computer bag, check. I held my breath. Oh, no, the turquoise carry-on bag was pulled off the line to be inspected.

Darn it. All because of my favor. I wish I could have seen how indistinguishable that item looked in the top of my bag. A Thermos lunch bag cooler, five pounds of teal and white candies inside, carefully cocooned in two layers of bubble wrap to keep them from crumbling and occupying approximately one-third of the space in my carry-on bag.

Have you ever wondered about which candy is most popular?  The Mars company claims its M&Ms® are the most popular chocolate candy in the world.  The coated candies were created in the 1930s in order to add a chocolate candy to soldiers’ meals that would not melt. How are they made?  The candies begin as liquid chocolate poured into tiny molds. They are then “tumbled” to make the chocolate center smooth and rounded. After they harden, a liquid chocolate and corn syrup coating is sprayed on them. Multiple coats. Multiple drying times. The color is the very last coat that is applied. You can read more about how M&Ms® are made here. Additional factoids about M&Ms® can be found through google searches. I wondered how many M&Ms® were in my five pound package? At one point, I had around 2500 M&Ms® in my possession.

My favor, requested by my favorite younger sister, was to deliver five pounds of teal and white M&Ms® for my favorite oldest Florida nephew’s graduation party.  The company would not ship them in May to Davie, Florida because of the fear of melting. So after a 1500 mile special delivery trip, here is what the hand stamped M&Ms® looked like and why a TSA screener in Iowa is still asking his peers, “Did you know that M&Ms®  could be printed with a picture on them and all kinds of other sayings?”

Neel m and m

Have you had personalized M&Ms®?  Did you ever wonder about their creation? Or their delivery to their final destination?  What stories could your M&Ms® tell?

slice of life 2016

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.  Thank you for this weekly forum!

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Visual structures of this draft of the essay above based on my current understanding of Chapter 3:  The Journey is Everything.

7 paragraphs

  • The favor – 5 paragraphs
  • M&Ms® – 1 paragraph
  • Questions for readers – 1 paragraph

7 paragraphs

  • Introduction to the favor – 1
  • The story- 3 paragraphs
  • M&Ms® – 1
  • The specifics of the  favor – 1
  • Picture
  • Questions for readers – 1


7 paragraphs

  • The mystery – 2 paragraphs
  • DSM airport story (the mystery continues) – 2 paragraphs
  • M&Ms® – 1
  • The  favor revealed (including picture) – 1
  • Questions for readers – 1


7 paragraphs

  • The Favor
  • Hint
  • Mini-story – hint (2 paragraphs)
  • M&Ms®
  • Explicit reveal (with picture)
  • Involve reader with questions

How would you map the structure?

26 responses

  1. Cool candy story .. I wish I had known about this (my son is having his grad party this weekend)

    1. Kevin,
      College graduation? I’m a perpetual graduator . . . four plus some certificate programs! THANKS!

  2. I liked that your essay included the paragraph with factual information about M&M’s. I think this added interest to your story of the favor. They mystery at the beginning also made me want to read and find out what you were packing up to take to Florida. I am going to read Bomer’s book soon!

    1. Lisa,
      There are so many good professional books right now, but Katherine’s is truly a gem to get us to “THINK” about our intentionality!

  3. They melt in your mouth not in your hand or carry on. Great story. I personally like the red ones.

    1. So true . . . a few crumbled, but absolutely none melted! THANKS!

  4. Love how you took learning and a great story to construct this and then deconstruct it for your reader. What a learner you are!

    1. Julieanne,
      Practice, practice, practice . . . Always learning! Thanks for reading the draft!

  5. Great story! And I appreciate how you used your new learning to put it all together and teach your readers something also. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You are welcome, Rose! I’m still trying to figure it out! LOVE being a learner so it’s all in progress learning!

  6. This is such an awesome idea! I’m writing it down for when my boys graduate! Thanks for sharing!

    1. You are welcome, Lisa! Graduations, weddings . . . any special event! 🙂

  7. What a fun Slice to read Fran. I love how your voice comes through- I can practically hear you! I love the structure and the breakdown at the end is fascinating. Katherine Bomer’s book is in my stack. Can’t wait to read it. Especially after reading your Slice!

    1. Well, I’m only on chapter 3 so we’ll see where else Katherine’s book takes me. Structure is such an issue for so many students that I think we need a lot more choices than we have used with previous graphic organizers and transition words!

      Voice has ALWAYS been my trait of choice. I really have to work at some of the other!

      Thanks for your comments, Lisa! So exciting to see you as a member of the #TWT team!

  8. Fran, you are blowing my mind! I think you are probably the first person I know to take some ideas from just one chapter of my book, and practice them in an wonderful essay of your own! I love how you play with different maps of the structure, and it just shows the endless options for essay when it’s not a five-paragraph formula. Your piece is funny, mysterious, factual, and resourceful.
    PLUS, you have added the terrific ideas for putting in links for your audience to learn more about M&M’s, and you added an eye-catching photo as the “reveal”. Look how your writing has gotten people interested in both purchasing graduation M&M’s and looking into essay themselves. That’s what I’m talking about!

    1. Thanks, Katherine. I have to confess that I had two friends read it to “make sure it was an essay and to offer advice especially after I publicly stated my intention to write an essay!

      I think structure is the hardest part for students to revise once they have an idea in their brain. It takes more than just a second look and that takes time in order to give it a thumbs up or down! And there are so many other time stealers out in the world!

      Thank you so much for your comments! (I was working ahead of our book group due to my traveling!) Can’t wait to see where we go with our rubric-y ideas!

  9. Love your posts- always thoughtful!

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Thanks, Ann!
      So much fun working on this!

  10. So many things to love here: the M&Ms, the essay itself, your nephew’s graduation, your draft structures!

    1. Thanks, Adrienne! So much fun showing evidence of learning. Still tying to work on the draft structures from Katherine Bomer’s “The Journey is Everything”!

  11. This is terrific, Fran! You’ve done a great job weaving together your M&M story with facts and questions. I’m a huge M&M fan, but honestly never considered how they were made. Thanks for enlightening me!

    1. You are welcome, Catherine! It was fun working on this and trying to decide not only what I thought was interesting but also what my readers might think was interesting! ❤

  12. I missed this great post the first go round, so I am glad that i am reading it now before the Katherine Bomer chat tonight on #DigiLitSunday, Fran.

  13. […] A Favor – My essay (with a comment from Katherine Bomer – another fangirl moment) […]

  14. […] here! (a micro-essay about TSA […]

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